Advertisers, digital marketers and publishers are fighting back against internet-related fraud, which siphons an estimated $8.2 billion annually from the US digital advertising supply chain.

Ad fraud is defined as the deliberate practice of attempting to serve ads that have no potential to be viewed by a human user to game website traffic or impressions. As digital ad spend has grown, so has the volume of fraud.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) created the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) to enhance accountability and transparency in the digital ad industry. It works collaboratively with companies throughout the digital ad supply chain to eliminate fraudulent digital advertising traffic, combat malware, prevent internet piracy of content and products and protect the integrity of the digital supply chain.

'Certified Against Fraud'

Just last week, TAG launched an anti-fraud certification program. The seal program recognizes “Certified Against Fraud” companies that have agreed to comply with a set of guidelines related to their specific role in the digital advertising supply chain.

"Criminal activity has infiltrated the supply chain,” said TAG President and CEO Mike Zaneis, former executive vice president and general counsel for the IAB.

More than 30 digital advertising companies and ad agencies have agreed to participate in the program and undergo TAG anti-fraud certification, including Amobee, AppNexus, Collective, comScore, DoubleVerify, Dstillery, engage:BDR, Exponential, Forensiq, Horizon Media, Index Exchange, Integral Ad Science, Interpublic Group, MediaMath, Moat, ndp, News Corp, Omnicom Group, OpenX, Publicis Worldwide, RhythmOne, Rocket Fuel, Rubicon Project, Sociomantic, sovrn, SpotX, TubeMogul, White Ops, WPP, Yahoo and Zemanta.

To obtain the seal:

  1. Direct buyers, such as advertisers and authorized advertiser agents (AAAs), must complete the TAG Registration process, have a designated TAG compliance officer, and comply with the Media Rating Council’s Invalid Traffic (IVT) Detection and Filtration Guidelines.
  2. Direct sellers, such as publishers and authorized publisher agents (APAs), must comply with all steps required of buyers, as well as domain list filtering, data center IP list filtering, and publisher sourcing disclosure requirements.
  3. Intermediaries, such as ad networks and other indirect buyers and sellers, must comply with all steps required of buyers, as well as domain list filtering, data center IP list filtering, and TAG’s Payment ID protocol.

Creating Awareness, Transparency

Companies like West Hollywood, Calif.-based engage:BDR, a display and video advertising solution provider, describe industry standards and certification as moves in the right direction. Until now, noted Sydney Goldman, engage:BRD manager of marketing and communications, “It's been somewhat of a Wild West."

Standards will "put everyone on the same page with regard to requirements and create greater awareness and transparency."

But TAG’s efforts don’t stop there: This fall, the group will launch an information sharing platform to feed intelligence to law enforcement agencies about ad related criminal activity. The organization has been developing relationships with the multiple US federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and Department of Justice, Zaneis said.

“The end goal is to share intelligence with law enforcement to put the criminals behind bars.”